The Information wants to be – accurate?

I happened on a captivating talk on CBC radio the other evening – Sue Gardner, head of the Wikimedia Foundation, gave a Dalton Camp lecture in Journalism called The Changing Media Landscape.

Think we’re all being dragged down as news orgs struggle to find their way? Think the internet is full of inaccuracies and no one’s watching? Sue disagrees.

I hadn’t heard of Wikimedia – it’s a US-based nonprofit that encourages free wiki-based projects and runs the most famous wiki of them all, Wikipedia.

Sue, a former CBC-er, believes we’re all benefiting as journalism finds its way in this new media era. Ours, she says, is a “golden age of journalism”. We have access to more quality info than was ever imagined, it’s mostly free from censorship and it’s easy to get at.

When people decry the lack of quality control on the internet she outlined the steps a Wikipedia article goes through to be published. If it’s later criticized for being biased that will get investigated and fixed. If someone wants something to be made more flattering – here she pointed to nefarious PR people – that they won’t do.

Apparently it’s been said about Wikipedia “it doesn’t work in theory, only in practice.”

For years we believed in authority figures, she pointed out. We chose to suspend our disbelief and thought that because a news org said it, it was true. The difference now is websites (and maybe people) get the credibility they deserve. Trust, she believes, is being earned – and this is how it should be.

I felt more upbeat about the future of news after hearing this talk. And now more than ever I want to submit something to Wikipedia.


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